In a special report on hydraulic fracturing, in the July 6th edition of the Oil and Gas Journal, the authors write that, “the need for communication of accurate information to the public, lawmakers, and regulators is imperative on various drilling-related topics, including hydraulic fracturing, water use and supply, and surface use. [Especially given the] active development of massive US natural gas shale plays in regions of the country….” Story - membership required to view
Based on my experience at a recent Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, I’ll completely concur with the above the statement. This report is quite good and provides more detail on issues surrounding hydro fracking than anything I have seen to date.
- “Before the introduction of any chemicals used in the drilling process, engineers, geologists, and geophysicists (and other specialists) collaborate to develop a fracturing program tailored to the specific characteristics of the formation and the well. A well-designed and installed casing program, combined with proper cementing, provides the first layer of protection and groundwater isolation from an oil- or gas-bearing formation.”
- “Many of the misunderstandings about hydraulic fracturing fluid focus on the “chemicals” used during the process. In deep shale plays, fracing fluid typically is made up of 99% water and sand; the rest consists of additives required to facilitate the process. The quantity of additives used is diluted and typically remains far below any level that may pose a danger to health.”
- Water resources are protected from surface operations by a host of federal, state, and local regulatory programs.
- Water use is another issue receiving increasing attention. Oil and gas wells cannot be drilled or completed without using water. A typical deep shale gas well requires a total of 3 million gal of water for the drilling and hydraulic fracturing processes.
o To put that in context, 3 million gal of water is the amount used by:
A city with a population of more than 8 million people in 4 min.
A 1,000-Mw coal-fired electric power plant in 71⁄2 hr.
A typical golf course in 1 week.
Irrigating a 5-acre corn field for one season.
- Prudent and responsible operations require that surface locations be selected based on environmental and social stewardship considerations, not just upon economic return on investment. This is particularly important in metropolitan settings and environmentally sensitive areas
- As with all industries, it is incumbent upon the “old guard,” including management, to demand environmental prudence in operations. This requires unflinching dedication to hiring good people, and more importantly, educating and training them on how to “do things the right way.”
Paul Hagemeier (firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice-president of regulatory compliance for Chesapeake Energy Corp. He is responsible for oversight of Chesapeake’s compliance with state and federal regulations. This includes the development and enforcement of corporate policies and issues related to the dispensation of hazardous and nonhazardous waste.
Jason Hutt (email@example.com) is a partner in Bracewell & Giuliani LLP’s Environmental Strategies Group, where he regularly advises energy companies, project developers, investor groups and financial institutions about environmental risks and liabilities associated with policy initiatives, regulatory compliance, and enforcement proceedings.